Software User Interface Redesign

Posted on December 8, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today I opened up a web browser and eventually made it to Twitter to see what was going on. I was greeted by the not so friendly Twitter site redesign. If you’re on the Twitter page at all, you won’t miss it. To be honest, it felt like going to a foreign land. I use a number of tools for Twitter, but my favorite is just going to the Twitter website to consume and send my @techguy tweets. Although, maybe I should say it WAS my favorite place.

Yes, change is always hard, but isn’t that kind of the point? Was there any announcement about the change before it happened? Nope! Did they give users a chance to try the new interface before they made a wholesale swap to the new interface? Nope. Google’s actually done this really well recently with things like Gmail. They’ve made the new interface available, but you can always click back to the old interface if you don’t like. That way they can solicit feedback and improve the new interface while still not alienating those that love the old interface.

In my example on Twitter, I quickly was able to identify the thing that annoys me most. When I click on someone’s Twitter name it gives me a pop up box for that person. Before it use to have that appear on the side. It’s a small subtle change, but makes a huge difference since on the side I can continue consuming tweets, but in a pop up box I have to remove it before I continue on.

I could go on about the new Twitter, but the point is that software vendors have to be careful when they change the user interface. Maybe this new Twitter interface will even grow on me. I didn’t like the last time they changed the Twitter interface either, but once I found some of the secret features I came around for the most part. Maybe I’ll come around on this too, but it would have been nice if I knew it was coming.

What does this have to do with EMR?

The connection seems quite clear to me. EMR and EHR companies have to be really careful and considerate when they change their EHR interface. Give users options to be able to try it and to adapt to it over time. With a sort of limited opt in release of a new EMR interface to an active user base, you’ll likely get a lot of pointed feedback for the new EMR interface. Certainly you’ll get the useless “I hate the new look” emails without any value. However, you’ll also get the pointed emails that provide constructive ideas on things you probably didn’t realize were important in the old EMR interface.

Most SaaS EHR companies are constantly considering this since they’re rolling out changes to their software all the time. Client server based EHR software also takes it into account, but this can be shown and taught as each client is upgraded.

The main point is to be thoughtful of and upgrade to your EHR user interface. Get feedback and whenever possible let them opt in and out of the new interface so you don’t alienate your users.

While I may not be totally enamored by the new Twitter interface, I do always love new features in software. For example, as part of the new Twitter interface there’s a feature that lets you embed tweets. Here’s a few EMR related tweets to see how it works.


And then some big news from GE and Microsoft that just came out:

Hmmm…still looks like they have some work to complete on their embedded tweets (UPDATE: The preview looked different from when it’s posted. It’s not too bad in the actual post). Sounds like many doctors talking about EHR features that get rolled out.